For many women, vaginal infections are a common occurrence. Two of the most common types of vaginal infections are bacterial vaginosis (BV) and yeast infections. While both can cause discomfort and unpleasant symptoms, they are caused by different factors and require different treatments.
What is Bacterial Vaginosis?
Bacterial vaginosis is a common vaginal infection caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the vagina.
Common symptoms of BV
- Foul-smelling vaginal discharge
- Thin and grayish-white vaginal discharge
- Itching, burning, and discomfort during intercourse
BV is caused by a change in the balance of bacteria in the vagina. Normally, the vagina contains a balance of "good" bacteria and "bad" bacteria. When the balance is disrupted and the "bad" bacteria overgrow, BV can occur.
Factors that can increase the risk of developing BV
- Using scented products in the genital area
- Having multiple sexual partners
- Intercourse with a new partner without a condom.
What is a Yeast Infection?
A yeast infection is another common type of vaginal infection. It is caused by an overgrowth of yeast, a type of fungus, in the vagina.
Common symptoms of a yeast infection
- Itching and irritation in the vaginal area
- Thick, white, odorless discharge
- Pain during urination or sex
Yeast infections are caused by an overgrowth of the fungus Candida. This fungus is normally present in the vagina in small amounts, but when it overgrows, a yeast infection can occur.
Factors that can increase the risk of developing a yeast infection
- Taking antibiotics
- Having uncontrolled diabetes
- Using hormonal contraceptives
- Taking birth control pills that contain estrogen
The treatment for BV and yeast infections is different. BV is usually treated with antibiotics, such as metronidazole. These antibiotics work by killing the "bad" bacteria that have overgrown in the vagina. Yeast infections, on the other hand, are usually treated with anti-fungal medications, such as fluconazole. These medications work by killing the yeast that is causing the infection.
It is important to note that not all vaginal infections are caused by BV or yeast infections. Other types of infections, such as trichomoniasis, can cause similar symptoms. It is important to see a healthcare provider for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.
Preventing BV and yeast infections can be done by maintaining good vaginal health. This includes
- Avoiding douching and scented products in the genital area
- Wearing cotton underwear
- Practicing safe sex
Women who are at risk of developing recurrent infections may benefit from probiotics or other preventative measures recommended by their healthcare provider.
While both bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections can be uncomfortable, they are caused by different factors and require different treatments. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect you have a vaginal infection, and to practice good vaginal health to prevent future infections.